ADHD & Intrusive Thoughts

If you are someone who has ADHD, you may be more prone to intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts that pop into your head and cause a great deal of anxiety. They can be disturbing and make it difficult to focus on anything else. I understand how distressing intrusive ideas can be, as I've had trouble controlling my thoughts before. In this blog post, we'll look at how ADHD and intrusive thoughts are linked, as well as how you can get help.

Table of Contents

~ 1. ADHD and Intrusive Thoughts: What You Need to Know

~ 2. An Intrusive Thought & ADHD Brain: Overthinking Stuff Does Not Help

~ 3. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Affects How Your Brain Works

~ 4. Intrusive Thoughts: One of the ADHD Symptoms That Can Further Cause Comorbidities

~ 5. Let's Talk More About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

~ 6. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and ADHD

~ 7. Steps to Overcome Intrusive Thoughts

~ FAQ

~ Conclusion

ADHD and Intrusive Thoughts: What You Need to Know

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodivergent condition that does not characterize only by extreme physical movements or the need for constant attention. Having ADHD can also come with different symptoms, such as having an inattentive mind or hyperactive brain.. An ADHD brain may work differently from a person who hasn’t been diagnosed with the condition. 

Having a predominantly inattentive brain can produce thoughts that are obsessive and repetitive. A person with an Inattentive Type of ADHD can have their mind wander somewhere else and ignore everything that is happening in their natural world. Likewise, a person with a hyperactive ADHD brain can produce thoughts that are more aggressive or intrusive than the thoughts of a neurotypical brain These are some of the ADHD symptoms that the  brain can experience.

An intrusive thought means that a person is thinking about something that can be irrelevant, unproductive, and even dangerous to themselves or other people. These negative thoughts are generally baseless and can cause stress. Overthinking and having increased brain activity thinking about unproductive and harmful things is defined as the Intrusive Thought Loop. These instances are experienced by other people and aren't exclusive to ADHD.

But when a person with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has intrusive thoughts, what could happen?

Would you like to try our new cheesecake?

An Intrusive Thought & ADHD Brain: Overthinking Stuff Does Not Help

Having a predominantly inattentive brain can produce thoughts that are obsessive and repetitive. A person with an Inattentive Type of ADHD can have their mind wander somewhere else and ignore everything that is happening in their natural world. The thoughts of a hyperactive ADHD brain, for example, might be more aggressive or intrusive than the thoughts of a neurotypical brain. These are some of the ADHD symptoms that the brain can experience.

An intrusive thought means that a person is thinking about something that can be irrelevant, unproductive, and even dangerous to themselves or other people. These negative thoughts are generally baseless and can cause stress. Intrusive thought loops are defined as overthinking, which entails increased brain activity and the contemplation of useless and negative ideas. However, these issues may affect anybody, not just people with ADHD.

But what if a person who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has intrusive thoughts?

we make it with our own milk...

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Affects How Your Brain Works

blah blah blah...

Research suggests that even if  somone has inattentive ADHD or a hyperactive ADHD brain, there is a big chance that  their thoughts are different than someone without thecondition. The brain networks of a person with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are wired differently, causing an effect on the executive functions of the brain. These executive functions are responsible for  the body's working memory, decision-making, self-control, and reasoning.

Even if someone has inattentive ADHD or a hyperactive ADHD brain, their thoughts are likely to be distinct from those without the condition, according to research. The brain networks of a person with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are wired differently, causing an effect on the executive functions of the brain. These executive functions are responsible for the body's working memory, decision-making, self-control, and reasoning.

Think of executive functions as a person's command center in their brain that regulates the rest of the organs in  the body. These cognitive processes are regularly associated with problems in planning, prioritizing tasks effectively, paying attention to details, concentrating on work or schoolwork for long periods without getting distracted, and controlling impulses. The corresponding brain networks are also responsible for how one thinks, acts, and feels.

Executive functions are a person's command center in their brain, which controls the other organs in their body. These cognitive processes are regularly associated with problems in planning, prioritizing tasks effectively, paying attention to details, concentrating on work or schoolwork for long periods without getting distracted, and controlling impulses. The corresponding brain networks are also responsible for how one thinks, acts, and feels.

Intrusive thoughts for an ADHD brain might come intense because of the person's poor control over their thoughts. These negative thoughts can sometimes be persistent and can stay long. If not contained and acknowledged well, the disturbing thoughts that you might have can produce related disorders and comorbidities that can further affect your well-being.

did you like it?

Intrusive Thoughts: One of the ADHD Symptoms That Can Further Cause Comorbidities

Intrusive thoughts: Violent or Disturbing

First, let's define what comorbidity is. ADHD Comorbidity can be defined as the presence of one or more conditions in addition to a primary disorder. In this article, we will share more details about some of these comorbidities. Keep in mind that this is not professional medical advice. If you want to have an accurate diagnosis, speak with a mental health professional to learn more about this issue.

  1. Anxiety

Anxiety is something someone might experience when they have an intrusive thought loop. Anxiety is triggered when someone obsesses about something that can produce negative feelings in the mind. Persistent thoughts running for several hours, thinking of things that cannot be controlled is a form of anxiety. If not appropriately addressed, it can also cause anxiety disorders such as social anxiety, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

  1. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is another common comorbidity of ADHD. People with bipolar disorder shift from depression, where they feel sad most of the time, to a state of high or manic excitement during which they are active beyond normal limits with excessive energy. Mania is considered an extreme form of elevated mood in someone with bipolar disorder. This disorder is derived from intrusive thoughts that produce intense emotions that can result in unwanted behaviors, that are not considered to be “normal”.

  1. Depression

Depression is also another condition that people with ADHD commonly experience. It is said that depression is the third most common comorbid disorder of ADHD. A depressive state is often triggered when you cannot fulfill your own needs/wants and aspirations due to several factors such as work, family, or personal life. When a person with ADHD has depression, they may feel bad for themselves and have trouble the sadness and negative feelings that take control of their mind.

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders can also have ADHD as comorbidity. Studies showed that children with autism affected by ADHD tend to be more disorganized and unfocused than their peers, which is very problematic for them. This is because the ADHD symptoms can make the social interactions of these children even harder to handle. The intrusive thoughts they experience can trigger the stimming behaviors that people with autism make.

  1. Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder can bea result of intrusive thoughts as well. The condition is characterized by the person believing that their body looks exceptionally different than everyone else's, which results in them avoiding social events and pictures even more than usual. This can be very problematic because it can worsen obsessive-compulsive behavior due to the distortion of one's appearance.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder can be a result of intrusive thoughts as well. The condition is characterized by the person believing that their body looks exceptionally different than everyone else's, which results in them avoiding social events and pictures even more than usual. This can be very problematic because it can worsen obsessive-compulsive behavior due to the distortion of one's appearance.

  1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is another disorder that is closely linked to intrusive thoughts and ADHD. OCD is a type of mental health disorder where a person has obsessive and uncontrollable ideas, impulses, or urges that they feel the urge to repeat over and over again. This means that someone with this condition had repetitive thoughts running through their mind repeatedly, which can cause them distress and interfere with their logical reasoning. ADHD and OCD have similarities because both conditions are linked with the brain's executive functions. It is typically characterized by having trouble concentrating, being easily distracted, disorganized, forgetful, and having problems with follow-through.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is another disorder that is closely linked to intrusive thoughts and ADHD. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder in which a person experiences obsessive and uncontrollable thoughts, urges, and compulsions that drive them to perform the behavior over and over again. This means that someone with this condition has repetitive thoughts running through their mind frequently, which can cause them distress and interfere with their logical reasoning. OCD and ADHD have similarities because both conditions are linked with the brain's executive functions. OCD symptoms are typically characterized by having trouble concentrating, being easily distracted, disorganized, forgetful, and having problems with follow-through. 

For example, suppose a person has mild ADHD with only a few distressing, intrusive thoughts. In that case, their symptoms will be slightly noticeable, and they can still function normally in society. However, those with moderate-severe forms of ADHD have more intense thoughts that can significantly interfere with their daily lives. These people spend most of their time worrying about the intrusive thoughts they experience, affecting their performance at school, work, and even in personal relationships.

Intrusive ideas may aggravate the symptoms of ADHD. Consider a person with ADHD who only has a few distressing or intrusive thoughts. If that's the case, they'll have minor symptoms and be able to manage just fine. Those who have a moderate-severe form of ADHD, on the other hand, experience more powerful thoughts that frequently interfere with their daily routine. These people will most likely spend most of their time worrying about the intrusive thoughts they experience, affecting their performance at school, work, and even in personal relationships.

Let's Talk More About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Having obsessive thoughts in an ADHD brain is quite common, but the problem arises when you cannot control these thoughts. These intrusive thoughts can trigger certain behaviors that are often considered unusual or inappropriate, making it hard for the person to interact with others. In essence, people with ADHD can experience more obsessive-compulsive behavior due to their brain's constant struggle with controlling themselves and their actions.

Some ADHD group members have said that they often have thoughts of self-harm, sexual acts, or violence running through their minds. ADHD can cause these types of intrusive thoughts because it weakens the brain's executive functions responsible for controlling your emotions and behaviors. This is why people with OCD who also has ADHD can typically have more cases of intrusive thoughts than those with another comorbidity. The mental well-being with intrusive thoughts can be determined by how much they struggle to control these types of ideas. An intrusive thought causes OCD, which makes it the main link between the two mental health conditions.

Some ADHD group members have said that they often have thoughts of self-harm, sexual acts, or violence running through their minds. ADHD can cause these types of intrusive thoughts because it weakens the brain's executive functions responsible for controlling your emotions and behaviors. This is why people who both have OCD and ADHD can typically have more cases of intrusive thoughts than those with another comorbidity. The mental well-being of intrusive thoughts can be determined by how much they struggle to control these types of ideas. An intrusive thought causes OCD, which makes it the main link between the two mental health conditions.

International OCD foundation suggests six types of intrusive thoughts that happen when someone has OCD. These include: aggressive, sexual, religious, somatic (related to body image), obsessive thinking, and scrupulous thoughts. These ideas are prevalent in the ADHD population because the dysfunction in the brain causes poor impulse control, resulting in repetitive behaviors or obsessions. Adults who have both ADHD and OCD symptoms can make the brain more sensitive to emotions, and this often causes a heightened stress response which can make a person feel tense, anxious, and depressed.

International OCD foundation suggests six types of intrusive thoughts that happen when someone has OCD. These include: aggressive, sexual, religious, somatic (related to body image), obsessive thinking, risky behaviors, and scrupulous thoughts. These ideas are prevalent in the ADHD population because the dysfunction in the brain causes poor impulse control, resulting in repetitive behaviors or obsessions. Adults who have both ADHD and OCD symptoms can make the brain more sensitive to emotions, and this often causes a heightened stress response which can make a person feel tense, anxious, and depressed.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and ADHD

When a person with an ADHD brain has enough of the hurtful things thrown at them, they  can sometimes feel the need to escape and "run away" from it all. This form of mental health condition is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and usually occurs after an individual has experienced a traumatic event. These instances can include physical assault, life-threatening accidents, war, natural disasters, or other horrifying incidents that put their lives in significant harm or danger.

ADHD can cause PTSD if a person experiences enough trauma and stress and continues to feel bad and playback all the scenarios that go through their head. PTSD is a mental health condition that makes a person "relive" the painful moments from the past, which results in feeling anxious all over again whenever they see certain things or have thoughts related to their traumatic incident. ADHD and PTSD can happen simultaneously because of  a person's weakened executive functions, thus allowing intrusive thoughts to take over. ADHD brains that suffer from PSTD cannot stop thinking about their past trauma, which sometimes results in feeling mental distress, physical discomfort, and emotional numbness.

When someone has ADHD and is exposed to enough trauma and stress, they can develop PTSD as a result of continually feeling terrible and revisiting awful memories. PTSD is a mental health condition that makes a person "relive" the painful moments from the past, which results in feeling anxious all over again whenever they see certain things or have thoughts related to their traumatic incident. ADHD and PTSD can happen simultaneously because of a person's impaired executive functioning, thus allowing intrusive thoughts to take over. ADHD brains that suffer from PSTD cannot stop thinking about their past trauma, which sometimes results in feeling mental distress, physical discomfort, and emotional numbness.

Everybody can have intrusive thoughts

Steps to Overcome Intrusive Thoughts

The American Psychiatric Association suggests techniques available to help you form a coping mechanism for intrusive thoughts. Your ADHD brain responsible for this pattern of intrusive thoughts is trying to protect you from potential dangers by knowing when something is wrong. People with ADHD often have a "thinking-outside-the-box" mentality that generates creativity and insight to help them solve problems and learn new concepts. People with ADHD sometimes  need the right way to channel and focus their brains.

The American Psychiatric Association suggests techniques available to help you form a coping mechanism for intrusive thoughts. People with ADHD frequently have an "outside-the-box" thinking style that allows them to create and apply new ideas to help them solve difficulties and learn new things. ADHD individuals may need a different approach to lead and concentrate their minds on occasion.

Studies suggest that regular mindfulness meditation for adults with ADHD can significantly decrease the severity of their intrusive thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is an all-natural spiritual training process that helps people be aware of what specific thoughts are positive and does matter or which ideas are negative and plain distracting. There's considerable evidence that doing meditation for 15 minutes a day can increase focus, productivity, and creativity. Mindfulness meditation also increases your brain's cognitive functions and decreases any physiological stress caused by intrusive thoughts.

Research suggests that regular mindfulness meditation for adults with ADHD can significantly decrease the severity of their intrusive thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is an all-natural spiritual training method that teaches people how to be aware of what positive and worthwhile ideas they have, as well as which negative and useless notions they are thinking. There's considerable evidence that doing meditation for 15 minutes a day can increase focus, productivity, and creativity. Mindfulness meditation also improves your brain's cognitive capabilities and reduces any physiological stress caused by obsessive thinking.

But if you aren't a fan of meditation, sit still, and more thinking time for yourself, there are still ways to overcome intrusive thoughts. There's no harm in trying these steps:

  1. Acknowledge and recognize that having intrusive thoughts are a regular part of your daily life. Even people without ADHD can experience having these disturbing thoughts.
  2. Accept that these obsessive thoughts or negative emotions are going to stay for a while. Welcome every intrusive thought you think of, and don't try to resist them and break free.
  3. This, too, shall pass. Remember that every time these thoughts visit you, they will all pass as they are just part of your brain activity. They won't last long and will fade soon.
  4. Don't try to change your intrusive thoughts, and make it a point not to label them as "bad." They aren't trying to harm you in any way. They are trying to protect you from anything harmful or dangerous towards you, physically or emotionally.
  5. Watch the intrusive thought leave and expect them to come by again. These intrusive thoughts are repetitive, and they will always come back as long as you don't learn to control them.

Aside from these steps of overcoming these negative thoughts, you can stop overthinking by doing something else to occupy your mind. When you're under pressure, it's easy for negative things or ideas to crowd your head. You could work on something that has nothing to do with whatever is bothering you. You could restore the response inhibition function in your ADHD brain by doing something else.

Aside from these steps of overcoming these negative thoughts, you can stop overthinking by doing something else to occupy your mind. When you're under pressure, it's easy for negative things or ideas to crowd your head. You could work on something that has nothing to do with whatever is bothering you. You could restore the response inhibition function in your ADHD brain by doing something else.

You can do things such as playing a video game and be entertained for hours, or you can try to exercise carefully to get your mind off of the intrusive thoughts. Doing sports or even yoga is good for clearing out the negative energy that intrusive thoughts can bring. You can also do arts and crafts, read a book while drinking some coffee, play with your pet dog, play an instrument while singing while doing all of these things to take away the obsessive nature. Surrounding yourself with a pleasant external environment can also help you get through your intrusive thoughts.

You can do things such as playing a video game and being entertained for hours, or you can try to exercise to get your mind off of the intrusive thoughts. Doing sports or even yoga is good for clearing out the negative energy that intrusive thoughts can bring. You can also do arts and crafts, read a book while drinking some coffee, play with your pet dog, play an instrument while singing to keep yourself distracted. Surrounding yourself with a pleasant external environment can also help you get through your intrusive thoughts.

If you still struggle to control these obsessive thoughts and heightened brain activity, you may refer to your mental health expert for proper treatment. The treatment can be done through therapy sessions and medications for ADHD to reduce the symptoms of intrusive thoughts. There are plenty of mental health treatments to help anyone struggling with negative thoughts. You can  also try self-help procedures until you get proper medication for your brain condition.

If you still struggle to control these obsessive thoughts and heightened brain activity, you may refer to your mental health expert for proper treatment. The treatment can be done through therapy sessions for ADHD to reduce the symptoms of intrusive thoughts. It is important to seek professional help as sometimes, stimulant medication can worsen ADHD symptoms. There are plenty of mental health treatments to help anyone struggling with negative thoughts.

to manage them i try to see these thoughts as a weird visitor in a shop
wait for the thought to leave

ADHD and Intrusive Thoughts: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

 

1.  What can I do to stop my intrusive thoughts?


There are numerous things you can do to prevent these unpleasant ideas from popping up. You can engage yourself in mindfulness meditation, cognitive reframing, and distraction techniques.


2. How long will the effects of intrusive thoughts last?


Intrusive thoughts typically come and go quickly, lasting only a few minutes. However, if they become persistent or cause significant distress, professional treatment is recommended.

3. What should I do if my intrusive thoughts are about harming someone?


If your thoughts involve harming yourself or others, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. These types of thoughts can be very dangerous and require immediate attention. 

4. Are ADHD intrusive thoughts a sign of mental illness?


Intrusive thoughts are not exclusively associated with mental illness, but they can be a symptom of conditions such as anxiety or depression. 

Even people without ADHD can experience having these disturbing thoughts. This is the first step in overcoming them - acknowledging that they exist and everyone has them from time to time.

Conclusion

 

Intrusive thoughts are a part of everyone's life, but they can be especially prevalent in those with ADHD. If you find yourself struggling to control these thoughts, there are things you can do to ease your mind. With a little effort, you can learn to live with intrusive thoughts and not let them control your life.

If you're struggling with intrusive thoughts, know that you're not alone. These types of thoughts are common, and there are ways to manage them. Don't hesitate to reach out for professional help if the intrusive thoughts are causing significant distress in your life. With treatment, you can learn to control these thoughts and live a happy, healthy life.  🌷🧚‍♀️🌟💖

Table of Contents

~ 1. ADHD and Intrusive Thoughts: What You Need to Know

~ 2. An Intrusive Thought & ADHD Brain: Overthinking Stuff Does Not Help

~ 3. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Affects How Your Brain Works

~ 4. Intrusive Thoughts: One of the ADHD Symptoms That Can Further Cause Comorbidities

~ 5. Let's Talk More About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

~ 6. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and ADHD

~ 7. Steps to Overcome Intrusive Thoughts

~ FAQ

~ Conclusion

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. If you are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, it’s best to see a professional for a diagnosis.

Assess yourself with 25 ADHD symptoms

Buy Now

The Mini ADHD Coach

I created The Mini ADHD Coach in august 2020 when I was just diagnosed with ADHD at 29. After years of questioning, therapy, burnouts and chaotic career path changes I finally understood why I was struggling with so many things. So I decided to share what I learned to raise awareness around ADHD and help the ADHD community thrive.

ADHD & Support

Read More

ADHD & Talking Fast

Read More

ADHD & Getting Out of Bed

Morning struggles for people with ADHD include getting out of bed. What are the reasons behind it and how long does it take us to get up and battle sleepiness?

Read More

ADHD & Stimming

Do you stim 👀 ?Like many, for a long time, I thought only autistic people were stimming 🤔But since my ADHD diagnosis, I’ve learned that it’s also common for people with ADHD to stim 😊 !Everyone can stim! For example, it's pretty common to click your pen when you are taking an exam 😬🖊But for neurodiverse people, stimming can be more intense and frequent 😌I originally posted this in December, but as I get many questions about this topic, I thought it would be nice to post it again 💕

Read More

Visualize your
ADHD traits!